In The Next 20-30 Years, The Gold Will Not be There
District assemblies have been encouraged to evolve innovative and pragmatic programmes to re-position them to tap the vast potential in the extractive industry.
According to the Executive Director of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Bishop Akolgo, the mining sector presents great opportunities to the local authorities to rake in more revenue and also enhance the development agenda of their respective areas.
“In the next 20-30 years, the gold may not be there, and so you should decide what economic development you want so that you construct an economy that will stand the test of time,” Mr Akolgo told the participants.
“You should have a vision and get more money for the economy and transform the countryside.”
He was addressing participants including district coordinating directors (DEDs), district chief executives (DCEs), budget and planning officers, assemblymen and chiefs at a day workshop here on Wednesday on the role of local authorities revenue and expenditure tracking, extractives and national development – the role of local authorities.
He asked the district assemblies to seriously reflect on their present status and understand where they want to be in future.
All societies were searching and competing for investment and the district assemblies in mining areas need to attract investment into their areas.
“Remember that you need to convert the natural resources into lasting benefits,” he said, and stressed “you must diversify the local economy but you need to start planning now as to how you would harmonise your plans with the government and take the district to where you want it to be.”
He was not happy that local authorities had no active role in the decisions as to how mining companies entered the districts to prospect for minerals.
The districts, he said, could not be passive and only paste notices of exploration and prospecting by a company which would elapse after 21 days.
He explained that the local authorities should understand the social, economic and environmental implications of the prospecting for minerals.
“The elephant is coming into your farm and you should know. Don't just think about the royalties,” Mr Akolgo said.
The capacity of the district assemblies, he said, should be improved so that they would play their proper roles as representatives of the people. “Decentralisation does not mean giving people responsibilities and not providing the resources,” he said.
The district assemblies, the Executive Director of ISODEC said, must also understand the local contents of licenses for prospecting, particularly on how many people in the area would be employed.
They should also think about how they would gain revenue from the service sector, he said.
“Don't sit down for them to import even water from their home countries.”
In all these, Mr Akolgo stressed that, the people must be involved in the planning of the vision, mission and the agenda of the districts saying that “decision-making is participatory”.
“There is a social contract between the citizen (the principal) and the agents (government officials) and they need to account to us periodically,” he stated.